COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — The remains of a Kentucky teenager who went missing almost 10 years ago have been found in Ohio, authorities said.
Paige Johnson was 17 years old when she was last seen at a party with friends on Sept. 23, 2010. A friend, Jacob Bumpass, dropped her off at an intersection and she was never heard from again.
Kentucky’s Covington police said Johnson’s body was found Sunday near Williamsburg Township, Ohio, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of where she was last seen, news outlets reported. Police notified the family on Wednesday.
Ohio’s Clermont County Sheriff’s office said they were contacted on Sunday by a person who said they found human remains in a wooded area near Williamsburg Township.
Investigators from the sheriff’s office, Covington police and the county coroner’s office searched the area for two days and recovered the body. The remains were identified using dental records, officials said.
Covington Police Chief Rob Nader said a cause of death had not been determined.
“There remain many questions and much work,” Nader said. “We all wanted to find Paige alive. Today, I’m sad to say that hope evaporated entirely.”
Johnson was the mother of a then 2-year-old daughter when she disappeared. The girl, who lives with her father’s family, is now approaching her teens.
Continuous efforts were made over the past 10 years to find Johnson, including vigils and Facebook pages, filled with people seeking clues.
None of it led to Johnson.
Rob Sanders, commonwealth attorney for Kentucky’s Kenton County, said the investigation was frustrating from the beginning. He said potential witnesses had lied, refused to cooperate, told half-stories or gave false leads.
When police questioned Bumpass, who was described as one of Johnson’s acquaintances, he told them he dropped her off at the intersection of 15th Street and Scott Boulevard in Covington.
But investigators said phone records placed Bumpass near Johnson’s home, in a different area, at that time. His phone later pinged a tower near East Fork State Park in Clermont County, leading investigators to search there for Johnson. Bumpass was never named as a suspect.
Sanders said the finding could possibly help solve Johnson’s slaying. He said those involved in Johnson’s disappearance would be found.
“Now they’ll know what it’s like to live with uncertainty,” Sanders said. “They will be looking over their shoulders and they’ll never know when it might just be us behind them.”